03/13/14 7:57pm
03/13/2014 7:57 PM

EPCAL_sign

After months of putting off a vote on the project, the town Zoning Board of Appeals paved the way for a 97,000-square foot drug addiction research facility at Enterprise Park at Calverton on Thursday night, ruling that the application conforms to town zoning laws. (more…)

03/04/14 6:56pm
03/04/2014 6:56 PM
Riverhead Town received 5 renewable energy proposals and 4 proposals for peak plants.

Riverhead Town received 5 renewable energy proposals and 4 proposals for peak plants.

The Town Board last week received four responses to a request for proposals for peak energy plants or energy storage facilities last Tuesday, and five responses to an RFP for renewable energy, such as solar energy.

Board members declined to get into specifics of the proposals, saying they can’t disclose who responded until they select one.

The town has set aside a 90-acre area at the Enterprise Park at Calverton for energy plants, and also is seeking solar proposals or fuel cells at the Youngs Avenue landfill site. Some of the responses sought to purchase land while others sought to lease, according to Councilman Jim Wooten.

“Hydrogen fuel cells seem to be the flavor of the day,” Mr. Wooten said. “There’s more return on your money and there’s a higher energy that’s created.”

The town RFP is in response to similar RFPs issued by LIPA, which has a March 31 deadline for submissions. In order for the town’s choice to move forward, it must be picked by the LIPA approval process.

Councilman George Gabrielsen had said prior to the opening of the proposals that he hoped the town would make about $2 million per year in rent from power companies, but he said on Tuesday that he can’t discuss numbers until the proposals are made public.

“I’m hoping for the best possible outcome,” he said.

Supervisor Sean Walter said the town might make decisions as to which companies it will submit to LIPA on Thursday.

03/02/14 11:00am
03/02/2014 11:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Building Supply's corporate headquarters at EPCAL.

Riverhead Building Supply’s corporate headquarters at EPCAL. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Building Supply’s proposed expansion of its facilities at the Enterprise Park at Calverton will be the subject of a public hearing before the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency Monday.

The company is planning to move forward with the second phase of its EPCAL development, began in 2007, and is seeking tax breaks and other incentives offered by the IDA.

The hearing will take place at the 5 p.m. meeting in Town Hall.

The company is proposing to build a $5 million, 124,000-square-foot building immediately south of the  110,000-square-foot millwork building built at EPCAL in 2007.

Both buildings will be on the same 32-acre property.

“If everything comes together, we’re hoping to do that,” said RBS chairman Edgar Goodale of the expansion plan. “We still have some details to work out.”

The company was founded by the Goodale family on Ostrander Avenue in 1948 and now has more than 500 employees in locations throughout Suffolk County, Nassau County and Rhode Island.

The site plan approval RBS received in 2007 was a phased site plan, with the building now proposed being the second phase.

The new building would be a warehouse and millwork manufacturing facility, where doors, windows and custom millwork products are made, as well as a distribution center to support an existing millwork distribution facility, according to the IDA application.

“We’d be moving the distribution facility from Mill Road to EPCAL,” Mr. Goodale said.

The company received IDA benefits in 2007 as well, and those benefits included a partial property tax exemption that spanned 10 years, aligned with a mortgage tax abatement and sales tax exemptions on building materials associated with the project.

Mr. Goodale said he thought at the time that the 2007 IDA property tax exemption also applied to the second phase, but later found out it didn’t, so the company is seeking a new IDA incentive package for the second phase of the project.

The new IDA application is seeking an exemption “consistent with the uniform tax exemption policy” of the IDA, which calls for a 50 percent real property tax abatement on the increased assessed value of the property (after the improvements) in the first year; 45 percent in the second year; 40 percent in the third year; and thereafter declining 5 percent per year over a 10-year period.

The IDA does have discretion to alter from that policy. The 2007 IDA exemption started at 100 percent and decreased by 10 percent each year, and is in its seventh year.

The IDA property tax abatements apply only to the value of the new construction, and not to the existing value of the property, and they only cover town, county, school and fire district taxes.

The new EPCAL site will give the company a lot more room, Mr. Goodale sad.

“What we have on Mill Road doesn’t fit our needs anymore,” he said. “We need more under-roof storage.”

He said the EPCAL will not benefit from the freight rail spur leading into the former Grumman property from the LIRR’s main branch.

That spur currently only connects to two businesses on the southwest portion of the industrial park at EPCAL, although town officials have discussed expanding to other businesses in EPCAL.

“It doesn’t do anything for us, unfortunately,” Mr. Goodale said. “Not as it presently exists.”

The site plan from 2007 also called for RBS to build its headquarters at EPCAL, but that’s not needed now, since the company is currently renting space elsewhere at EPCAL for headquarters, Mr. Goodale said.

tgannon@timesreview.com

12/16/13 10:30am
12/16/2013 10:30 AM
JIM COLLIGAN FILE PHOTO

JIM COLLIGAN FILE PHOTO

A lottery for Riverhead Town residents and property owners to hunt on town-owned land in Calverton is scheduled for tonight, Monday, in Town Hall.

The annual hunt during the special firearms season, for shotguns and muzzleloaders, runs from Jan. 6 through Jan. 31, on weekdays.

Riverhead officials started opening up lands at Enterprise Park at Calverton a few years ago to thin the herd, though this season, three-day slots that hunters had been given last year will be reduced to two-day openings.

The lottery will take place at 7 p.m. in Town Hall at 210 Howell Avenue. Applicants must be in attendance to participate, and proper ID and hunting license must be presented at the time of the lottery.

Interested hunters can contact Councilman George Gabrielsen at 727-3200, Ext. 223, for more information.

11/21/13 8:00am
11/21/2013 8:00 AM

Preparing for the unknown in any circumstance is challenging indeed. Go too far and you overprepare, creating unnecessary work. Don’t go far enough and you’ll always be left wondering, “What if we’d done more?”

And readying Enterprise Park at Calverton to market to the public is about as hard a task as any facing Riverhead right now.

So what’s to be done when the firm conducting the EPCAL planning study asks for an additional $162,390 to complete its work — a 35 percent cost overrun on the $464,000 originally allocated?

The Town Board OK’d the additional funding (see related story). It’s nearly impossible at this point to tell what will be right and what will be wrong in the long run but at this point we agree with the decision, reluctantly.

The time required to negotiate a proposal acceptable to the Department of Environmental Conservation surprised everyone. And the town did ask planning firm Vanesse, Hangen, Brustlin to do additional work, for which it now has to pay if it wants the final product.

But VHB should not be asking for additional money to cover expenses that are strictly limited by stipulations in the original contract — for example, the number of people they can bill the town for sending to public meetings. They’ve been around the block and surely knew when they signed the contract how many people it takes to properly represent their clients at meetings.

The town and VHB both knew long ago that more money would be needed to complete the work and the town should have parceled out the payments in smaller installments. So VHB’s request for such a large lump sum all at once seems unfair, leaving some — at the very least, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who voted against the allocation — with understandable sticker shock. And, coming two weeks after Election Day, the timing of the request could also be considered curious by some.

But the fact remains that this study is vital to the plans the town has started at EPCAL, making the land marketable in ways previously impossible — especially in light of recent legislation passed in Albany.

It would be a shame to be left wondering years from now, “What if we had just paid that extra $162,000” in 2013 to finish that study?

We just hope we won’t have to revisit this question in 2014.

FILE PHOTO | The southern entrance into the already-developed part of EPCAL, referred to as the industrial core.

FILE PHOTO | The southern entrance into the already-developed part of EPCAL, referred to as the industrial core.

11/05/13 7:48am
11/05/2013 7:48 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) IDA Exectu

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James takes notes as Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard and Barbara Schiano speak to the IDA board Monday night.

Plans to build a two-story tall indoor skydiving tunnel are a little bit closer to taking flight.

The proposal — a new building to house the unique attraction at Skydive Long Island in the Enterprise Park at Calverton — will be subject to a public hearing over requested tax incentives in December, after members of Riverhead’s Industrial Development Agency expressed support for the proposal, with one member of the board calling the plan a “home run.”

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel.

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a wind tunnel.

“That’s a really great project,” said IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James at the board’s meeting Monday night in Riverhead Town Hall. “It’s truly a regional draw.”

Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard and Barbara Schiano, his wife, told the board their planned attraction would not only allow skydivers to practice jumps in a safe environment, but would also draw tens of thousands more into town during the typical skydiving off-season to experience the indoor wind tunnel — without having to get in a plane.

“There are many people who just go to these indoor wind tunnels to experience freefall who never go skydiving,” Ms. Schiano said.

Skydive Long Island would build a four-story tall building to house the 18-feet high, 14.5-foot wide vertical wind tunnel, which would use giant fans to lift customers into the air.

“It’s going to bring a lot more people to the town,” Mr. Maynard said, adding that the nearest indoor skydiving attractions were in New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Mr. Maynard also said that, while tunnels are used by professional skydivers to train, the general public could buy time inside the tunnel with an instructor in 2-minute blocks. Up to six experienced skydivers could use the tunnel for practicing formation diving.

The project — estimated to cost between $4.5 million to $5 million — would also feature glass running windows along the side of the tunnel, allowing onlookers to see in. It would take up to a year to build the structure, Ms. Schiano said.

Skydive Long Island — which has been in operation out of Calverton since 2000 — is asking for three types of tax incentives: a sales tax exemption, a mortgage tax exemption and a deal on its real property taxes, Ms. Stark-James said.

The sales tax exemption would apply to all construction material purchases, from building supplies to lighting fixtures for the new building.

Skydive Long Island has already secured partial funding for the project through the U.S. Small Business Administraiton, which doesn’t require mortgage tax to be paid. The local mortgage recording tax exemption would apply to the remainder not covered under the SBA and would eliminate the usual 1.05 percent tax.

The final incentive is to reduce the real property tax assessment, Ms. Stark-James said. The IDA’s standard property tax abatement reduces the assessed value of the new additions to the property by 50 percent; the assessed value of the property excluding the new additions is unaffected, meaning taxes on the existing property wouldn’t change. The property would gain an additional 5 percent on its assessed value each year until it hit the full 100 percent of its value, Ms. Stark-James said.

For example, if a property were worth $50,000 and another $10,000 in assessed value were added, the property’s abated assessed value would be $55,000 in the first year of the abatement, increasing by 5 percent each year until it reached the full $60,000.

While the 50 percent initial abatement is the typical IDA offer, Ms. Stark-James said Skydive Long Island was planning to request more of an abatement from the IDA. While board members didn’t reveal whether they would support the incentives, all expressed admiration for Mr. Maynard, a longtime local business owner.

The proposed incentives will be open for public comment at the IDA’s next meeting in early December. In the meantime, Ms. Schiano said the company is working on getting the necessary zoning permits to build the new attraction.

“This is going to be another iconic attraction [for Riverhead],” she said. “There’s nothing like it in the area.”

psquire@timesreview.com